DEAR ABBY: My 23-year-old daughter is out of control and has been since she was 16. She has a 2-year-old daughter, but she lives her life on the edge. She spends her days on the Internet meeting strange men and going out with them in private places. On the weekends, she drops her daughter here and takes off.
She has a history of drug and alcohol abuse and prostitution, but swears she only drinks alcohol now. I get so worried and upset I find myself yelling at her and trying to prevent her from leaving with these strange men. She thinks I’m trying to control her life when I’m actually trying to save her.
What should I do? I’m getting too old to be stressing out about what she’s doing and who she’s with. — STRESSED-OUT IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR STRESSED-OUT: You can’t “save” your daughter. Until she realizes she needs help, and is willing to accept it and change her life, she is unreachable. You can, however, talk to an attorney about gaining legal custody of your grandchild.
Terrible things can happen to women who do what your daughter is doing. That little girl needs safety, consistency and stability, and it appears you are the only relative she has who is capable of giving it to her. Please don’t wait.
DEAR ABBY: I read the obituaries in our local newspaper every day to see if someone I know has died. But when I don’t see any familiar name, I feel let down and disappointed. Is that weird? — STILL ALIVE IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR STILL ALIVE: People read the obituary section for various reasons, including the fact that some of the deceased have lived very interesting lives. Some do it hoping they won’t find their own name listed. If they see the name of an acquaintance, they may feel sadness at the loss or sympathy for the family, knowing each death leaves a hole in someone’s heart. But to feel “let down” seems to me like a lack of empathy, and in my opinion, it is weird.
DEAR ABBY: Please remind your readers that it is the job of retail workers to help customers. We are not “liars” or “stupid” because our store happens to be out of a toy that an angry parent “must” have this holiday season. It is amazing how this year’s hot toy item can turn parents into monsters.
I had one parent ask me after finding out that we were out of stock on a certain toy, “What am I supposed to do now?” I suggested looking online, but what I really wanted to say was, “Take your kids to help out at a homeless shelter so they can count their blessings!” — SANTA’S HELPER IN IOWA CITY
DEAR SANTA’S HELPER: I’ll remind them, but the parents you describe are under pressure because they don’t want to disappoint their kids. To the panicked parent who asks, “What am I supposed to do now?” you could respond by saying, “Now you go to Plan B.” Then suggest some other toy the child would like — even though it’s not his or her No. 1 choice. While I think the comment you would like to make (but keep suppressing) is an excellent suggestion, it would not be an appropriate one to make in a situation like this.